Are Surplus Rubber Rafts Used?

Whether you’re water rafting beginner or an excelled fishermen, there’s always a good raft to find. A surplus rubber raft is one of those rafts still used today and can be bought for a good price. What makes the difference is knowing where to go and the difference between good and bad surplus quality.

Yes, rubber surplus rafts are still used. The more modern designs are based on previous rafts in WWII, so they are great in both value and cost for anyone who purchases one.

Be it either from the a local Army Surplus Warehouse or online, there is always something to find within your budget for a great price.

What To Know About Rubber Rafts

Typically, rubber rafts are made from chlorosulfonated polyethylene, which is a synthetic rubber marketed under DuPont and Hypalon. It is known to be strong against chemical resistant material making it one of the bulkiest of raft material.

There are layers of this with Kevlar mesh to give the material for whitewater rafts better resistance and space between you and the water. It also is great for quick and easy repairing if it does get damaged. 


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to repair
  • Less likely to flip
  • Graspable seats
  • Easy to roll/pack
  • Stable out on water


  • Sometimes heavy
  • Difficult to wrap/tighten up
  • Folds up 
  • Loses rigidity over time
  • Higher drag in ecoefficiency
  • Seams can come apart in hot conditions

Storing rubber boats can be very easy because of the pliable nature of the materials. When it comes to storage, rubber boats are easy since they’re able to fold up nicely due to their materials being pliable.

Though, when stored over long periods of time (3+ months), they tend to stick to themselves. This will delaminate the underlying of the fiber later. The problem can be resolved by applying talcum powder before storing it in the off-season. In humid conditions, despite applying the powder, the boat can still stick together.

Urethane, Hypalon, And PVC

When you’re shopping at surplus stores, make sure you check the material contents to compare to ensure the best choice for ideal outdoor scenarios.

Urethane slips smoothly over rocks with great puncture and tear resistance, has the most durable fabric, and is lightweight when packing, making these boat types great for any outdoor adventure. However, because of their great quality, they are pretty pricey, tough to roll around/transport, and are harder to field repair.

Hypalon is great in field repair, making the material long-lasting. It’s also easy to roll for packing and storage and more resistant to punctures than PVC, though it’s not as durable as urethane. However, it is also expensive and tends to glue together.

PVC is the most inexpensive type of boat you can get, although it’s not super durable compared to urethane and Hypalon. It can crack when rolled up in cold temperatures and isn’t as mass-produced. These boats tend to have issues with their quality, so it’s not the greatest choice. 

Best Places To Look For Rubber Rafts

Companies You Can Trust

1. NRS has a large variety of raft styles made from various materials. They also include a warranty over the boat that lasts up to ten years, depending on the material and style of your boat choice. 

2. Hyside is an international company that makes Hypalon boats. They’ve been known for their overall great reputation when it comes to durability. When you purchase from them, they include a five year warranty. 

3. Vanguard Inflatables are makers of PVC boats, and they are also international. They have been in the boating business for over 100 years. They comply with coveted ISO 6185 Quality Control Standards for all their inflatable raft making.  

4. Rocky Mountain Rafts is recently new in the boating community, but they offer great pricing. They have put great value into manufacturing their rafts and other inflatable products. Pristine delivery and customer service matters to them. The goal of the company is to give their customers a quality raft with an affordable price in which to enjoy the great outdoors.

5. Avon Inflatables has been around for many years and is also known for making fantastic boats. With Hypalon and made in the UK, they are a more expensive choice, but they are worth it. It is important to note that they have stopped manufacturing whitewater rafts.

Top Three Rubber Rafts

According to, there are three rubber boat model types you should look into for your 2021 outdoor excavations. The following is from their webpage on boat reviews:

Intex Excursion 5: Rather than being flimsy, this budget boat will provide comfort for 4 or a party of 5. Buy a transom, mount a trolling motor and it works as a fishing boat or cruiser. Being quickly inflated and deflated, it’s a pure leisure craft that can convincingly pretend to be something more than it is. It won’t work well on larger bodies of water that are choppy, but it won’t break the bank.

Newport Vessels Dinghy Boat: Price wise, you can’t get more bang for your buck if your looking for a quality tender to serve a yacht, or a robust, inflatable fishing dinghy. This rigid-hulled inflatable just needs a motor to speed it over choppy waters.

Classic Accessories Colorado XT: Classic Accessories makes several inflatable fishing pontoons. All of them are designed for comfortable, solo fishing day trips. What makes this one stand out is the price combined with the transport wheel, providing an pontoon-style dinghy that can be pushed or pulled to the lake. Add a motor and remember the cooler.” Source

For every outdoor excursion, there really isn’t an overall best option when it comes to rafts. Your local conditions, boating activity, and personal preferences will determine what raft and raft material are best for you.

That’s not to say there aren’t many great choices, but to get more bang for your buck, you should carefully consider where to purchase your raft from that will last a long time.

Hopefully, this article helps you find a raft that accommodates all your future outdoor plans.

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